The Perfection, Review By Case Wright


perfection

Let me begin by writing that I love watching Netflix and I REALLY love livetweeting with Lisa and the rest of the Shattered Lens staff. We can coordinate times well and it’s easy to sync up.  This time, I was given the movie choosing authority and perhaps it will be my last.  I heard that The Perfection was a bit gory, but I figured come on, this is Shattered Lens- we Rocktober the October over here with our Horrorthon!  When I saw that Steven Weber was in it, I felt like ok, this is going to be like a Tales From the Crypt experience.  Well……….not so much.

The Perfection has trashy components to it and some cheaply built sets and the director REALLY wants you to know that they splurged and actually filmed in China! The best way to describe The Perfection is as an unaware, pretentious, and boring episode of Tales From the Crypt.  It had the victim goes to victimizer TFTC theme and the over the top gore, but it was always trying to be serious and important when it was just an overly long TFTC episode without any humor.

The plot is pretty straight-forward: Charlotte is a prodigy Cellist who left her art to care for her dying mother for ten-years.  When she tries to return to her life, she finds that a younger classmate Lizzy has attained the Cello fame that she sought.  She sees her old Mentor Anton (Steven Weber) and Charlotte is now the clear has-been.  Charlotte executes a plan to destroy Lizzy forever.  Charlotte meets Lizzy, seduces Lizzy, drugs Lizzy, and convinces Lizzy to chop her hand off.  Yep, another Hollywood girl meets girl, girl drugs girl, girl gets girl to chop her hand off story.  The Perfection was actually the original script for Love Actually.  The “To Me You Are Perfect” scene was just going to be Andrew Lincoln throwing severed hands at people – “To Me you are a perfect…Target” *throws hand at Juliet*.

Just when you think this movie will be a fun version of Black Swan it takes a turn for the dumb, gross.  Yes, I get that this was made by a post-Weinstein Miramax and it was showing how fame could encourage and condone horrible behavior, but it was done with so much exposition that it really caused the film to jerk from long explanations to gore and long explanations to gore and long explanations to trying a Subway Cold Cut Combo – even terrible movies get hungry.

I’m not sure if I should spoil this piece of trash or not.  It’s really not worth your time. Instead of watching this film you could eat a sandwich, do your taxes, plot revenge. However, it is nice to see that Steven Weber is still working – there’s that.

 

When Justice Fails (1999, directed by Allan A. Goldstein)


In New York City, two men have been murdered in the same ritualistic way.  Both of the men were accused rapists who beat the system, getting their charges dismissed due to legal technicalities.  When detectives Tom Chaney (Jeff Fahey) and Rod Lambeau (Carl Marotte) discover that assistant D.A. Katy Wesson (Marlee Matlin) was the prosecutor on both of the dead men’s cases, she becomes their number one suspect.  However, Chaney has his doubt about her guilt, especially after he goes on a few dates and starts sleeping with her.  Katy is an enigma with a traumatic childhood and penchant for picking up men in nightclubs but is she a murderer?  Other suspects include a creepy artist named Josh (Charles Powell), who also works as the deaf Katy’s interpreter, and Katy’s overdramatic mother (Monique Mercure).

That a direct-to-video thriller from 1999 would be a rip-off of Basic Instinct is not a shock.  Almost every thriller released between 1992 and 2000 was at least partially cloned from Basic Instinct.  What sets When Justice Fails apart is that it’s probably the only Basic Instinct clone to actually feature it’s two main characters discussing the ending of Basic Instinct post-coitus.  (For the record, Chaney thinks that the final shot means that Sharon Stone was the murderer while Katy says that the ice pick showed that the director was playing a joke on the audience.)  I guess When Justice Fails deserves some credit for being willing to so directly acknowledge the film that inspired it but, when you’re a mediocre film, you probably don’t want to intentionally remind audiences that they could be watching something better.

When Justice Fails actually gets off to a good start, with Jeff Fahey playing another one of his driven loners and Marlee Matlin really committing to the role of the film’s femme fatale.  The movie even manages to avoid the usual awkwardness that comes from having a hearing character repeating everything that a deaf character either signs or writes down.  The early scenes have a Law & Order feel to them, with Chaney and Lambeau interviewing witnesses on the busy streets of New York and also talking to a world-weary coroner.  It would have been a surprise if Stephen Hill had suddenly shown up and said, “Your case is weak and this trial could drag on through election day.  Make him an offer.  Man 1.  Depraved indifference.”

Unfortunately, once Chaney sleeps with Katy, the movie becomes increasingly implausible and goes downhill.  There just aren’t enough suspects to generate any suspense over who the murderer is ultimately going to turn out to be.  The surprise at the end is only a surprise because it didn’t occur to Chaney to run a routine background check on one of his suspects, something that I would think most cops would do at the start of a murder investigation.  Marlee Matlin is a terrific actress who is always interesting to watch but When Justice Fails ultimately fails to be very memorable.

Lisa Reviews An Oscar Nominee: Tender Mercies (dir by Bruce Beresford)


The other day, on this very site, I mentioned that the 1983 film Tender Mercies was one of the films that David Lynch turned down.  

In his memoir, Room to Dream, Lynch wrote that he was sent the film’s script while he was looking for a project to serve as his follow-up to The Elephant Man.  Lynch wrote that he liked the script, which was written by Horton Foote (who had previously won an Oscar for adapted To Kill A Mockingbird), but that Lynch also felt that it just wasn’t the right project for him at the time.  Tender Mercies was eventually directed by Bruce Beresford and Lynch mentioned that he felt that Beresford did a “brilliant” job.

After I posted the article, it occurred to me that Tender Mercies is not a film that’s as well-known as it deserves to be.  It received five Oscar nominations, including one for Best Picture.  Robert Duvall won his first (and, to date, only) Oscar for playing the lead role.  It’s an acclaimed film but it also plays it in a rather low-key style, particularly when compared to some of the other films that were released in the early 80s.  (1983 may have been the year of Tender Mercies but it was also the year of Scarface, Flashdance, Return of the Jedi, and Risky Business.)  As such, it’s a film that’s been a bit overshadowed over the years.

Tender Mercies takes place in rural Texas.  Mac Sledge (Robert Duvall) is a former country-western star whose career has collapsed due to his alcoholism and his own self-destructive behavior.  One morning, a hungover Mac wakes up in a roadside motel.  Not having any money on him, Mac asks the motel’s owner — Rosa Lee (Tess Harper), who lost her husband in Vietnam — if he can work at the motel in return for a room.  Rosa Lee agrees, on the condition that Mac not drink while he’s working.

As the days pass, Mac and Rosa Lee grow closer and Mac becomes a surrogate father to Rosa Lee’s young son, Sonny (Allan Hubbard).  Eventually, Mac and Rosa Lee marry and Mac becomes an accepted member of the community.  However, Mac remains troubled.  His ex-wife, Dixie (Betty Buckley), has built a career on singing the songs that he wrote for her but she refuses to consider anything new that he’s written.  His teenage daughter (Ellen Barkin) stops by the motel and announces that she’s running away to get married.  There’s tragedy but there’s also hope and forgiveness.

Tender Mercies is a simple but affecting film about a good man who is struggling to deal with the fact that he was once a very bad man.  What makes Tender Mercies interesting is what doesn’t happen.  The first time I saw it, I spent the entire movie expecting Mac to fall off the wagon and break everyone’s heart.  Instead, Mac manages to keep his promise to his new family but what he discovers is that being sober doesn’t automatically exempt one from pain or guilt.  He still has to deal with sadness and disappointment but now, he has to do it without using alcohol as a crutch.  Instead of getting his strength from booze, he now gets it from love.

It’s a wonderfully sweet movie, featuring naturalistic performances from Harper, Hubbard, and especially Robert Duvall.  It seem appropriate that, after making his film debut as Boo Radley in a film written by Horton Foote, Duvall would win his first Oscar for another film written by Foote.  Duvall plays Mac as a plain-spoken and weary soul who is still just enough of a romantic to find some sort of redemption in the world.  It’s a great performance and it’s a good film and I’d suggest checking it out if you ever need a good cry.

Music Video Of The Day: Psych Ward by Okay Kaya (2020, dir by Kaya Wilkins & Adinah Dancyger)


When I first watched this video, it took me a while to figure what it was reminding me of.  I finally realized that the film was making me think of an 80s zombie film called The Dead Pit, in which an amnesia victim finds herself locked up in a mental hospital that is so overrun by zombies.

Visually, the video really does have a retro feel to it.  With the grainy cinematography and the relatively small group of patients, it’s easy to imagine that this video could be an old Italian or French horror film from the early 80s.  One could easily imagine bits and pieces of the video appearing in one of Lucio Fulci’s post-Zombi, pre-Manhattan Baby films or perhaps one of the films that Jean Rollin did around the time that he directed The Night of the Hunted.  For a while there, psych wards were a very popular film setting.  I imagine that had something to do with the success of One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest.

Enjoy!